New TPC San Antonio golf course will be a good test for the Valero Texas Open
I just got a sneak preview of the newest course to host a PGA event, the AT&T Oaks Course at the brand new TPC San Antonio. My first impression after playing the Greg Norman-designed layout ? which got an assist from Sergio Garcia ? is that this is one really difficult golf course for resort players.
And we only played the course at 6,624 yards.
The course, which will host the new springtime version of the Valero Texas Open in May, is rated at 76.5 with a slope of 148 from the tips, which measure out to 7,435 yards. The other course at the TPC San Antonio and the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa ? the AT&T Canyons Course ? is considered the easier of the two ? and it’s designed by Pete Dye ? if that tells you something.
It’s not just that there are bunkers everywhere; it’s the severity of the bunkers. They’re deep, they’re large, and there are some spots where recovery is close to impossible. From the first hole, it seems like I found spots where you were just lucky to get the ball out, much less close on its undulating greens. Plus, the fairways are narrow, and you can bet the rough will be difficult when it comes out of dormancy in the next few weeks.
The golf course was also in surprisingly great condition, considering an unusually cold and wet winter in South Texas this year. Officials did not overseed ? and they won’t overseed in the coming years ? to protect the Bermuda for the late spring tournament date (May 13-16), but the dormant turf was mature way beyond its age and despite all the rain, not soggy at all. In fact, if there were not a tour event around the corner, I’m sure carts would have been allowed on the course (carts were 90 degrees on the Canyons Course).
The course is very different than the Resort Course at La Cantera, which is where the Valero Texas Open has been conducted as a fall event the past decade. La Cantera had a lot more elevation change with a lot of birdie and eagle opportunities. My guess is that the TPC San Antonio won’t be as easy for the pros, who routinely shot very low numbers at La Cantera. The greens are definitely tougher on the AT&T Oaks Course, plus the aforementioned bunkering will challenge even the best players in the world.
Still, the AT&T Oaks Course is more walker friendly than La Cantera, which means it should be easier for fans to get around, too. It looks like the only area the pros will have to be shuttled is between the 9th green and 10th tee, and from the practice facilities to the first and 10th tees. And while the course is difficult, it’s still fun. I think you need to play it a couple of times to get a feel for it ? especially off the tee.
The opening of the courses coincides with the opening the $500 million dollar resort, which has a 1,002-room hotel, a really large spa and even a water park. I especially liked the resort?s cool High Velocity sports bar, with its innovative jumbo big screen encompassing the entire lounge. Trust me; the players and guests are going to love this place come tournament week in May.
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